Digital Visual Artist MICHAEL BROOKS – “Walk on your path, happiness will follow”

“Happiness in daily life is something to do, something to love and something to hope for. Happiness is such a good state, it doesn’t need to be creative. You’re not creative from happiness, you’re just happy. You’re creative when you’re miserable and depressed. You find the key to transform things. Happiness does not need to transform. You smile, laugh, enjoy and encounter happiness as a choice. It took me time and tribulation to get to this realization,” Michael Brooks says. He got that one just right. We are the most creative and expressive when we come from the point of deep pain and loneliness. We aim to transform misery into happiness, where happiness itself has only one aim – to stay happy.

Michael Brooks – a digital visual artist from the Southern California, USA. But wait! There is more to this person than just those few simple words! He is my partner in collaborated creative work, my trusted friend, my inspiration; he is the one that tells me off when he feels it’s right and the one who encourages me to walk an extra mile whenever he feels I am procrastinating. He is a gifted artist and one of the most determined individuals I have ever got to encounter in my life. He is an example of faith in life and courage to face his own demons with the story of his own.

Since the beginning of our creative collaborations, he has generously volunteered and entrusted a huge number of his creative work (images, pictures) to me, which later I used for two of my books and number of videos. Even though we have never met in person and never even spoken on phone, yet we have the most loyal and supportive creative work relationship often dreamt by many. Throughout the years this connection grew into a friendship, where without ever meeting each other we feel we have known each other on a deeper level – on a soul level. That feeling and knowing reassures and soothes. I am grateful.

The time has come in his life when he feels free to enjoy the fruits of his creative work whether that is painting or printmaking or mastering a cinema software that benefits his artwork in images and video or working on digital visual art that he calls clean and tidy and limitless: “In digital art you can take one image and make as many variations of each, just as sound as the original image. I paint, I do printmaking and sculpture, but digital art is the one that pushes me to higher levels. You can accomplish so much more at a faster rate, you can experiment with colour and design elements in digital art, even into virtual reality digital art. I enjoy expressing myself whether using a paint brush or clay, but digital art has no limits, no boundaries.”

He says that his ideas come at him so fast that he feels the need for a medium that could help get those ideas down and ready fast enough: “I dabble in different mediums. I started with drawings, pastels, markers, and ink before progressing to Backlight posters and paintings. For a while I had worked predominantly in airbrush, creating canvasses depicting surreal, dreamscapes. However, I then largely abandoned large airbrush works in favour of Digital art.” He finds that a computer has so many tools and with the right software at his disposal, added with his own creative slant, he can accomplish anything he sets out to do.

Michael has a degree in Videography. “I did video production and post-production for small independent filmmakers, now I just work on my own projects with close friends. I like collaborating sometimes, but it takes a special gift to do it and it sure takes a toll on your patience. I keep myself pretty busy, but I try to keep the work fun.” The artist admits that he has a bad habit of working on too many things at once, which keeps his mind going to try to meet the challenge.

Michael Brooks values the support of his family. He is very proud of his son, who he finds to be a great artist and who as of currently is working on a 3D animated movie. Like father like son – both creative, both hard-working, both inspired and inspiring, both reaching for the stars in their own ways, both determined to express themselves and serve others through their work.

“There is no education like adversity and I found out the saying ‘you don’t appreciate something till you lose it’ very true. I don’t take things for granted anymore, I just enjoy life as much as I can. I stay away from drama and other people’s circuses. My art has been a great outlet for me, and I found there is something about creative pursuits that has to do with overcoming things. Right now, I thrive by focusing and connecting to that work that I truly love (and, in so doing, unleashing a productive and creative power that I’ve never imagined). In surrounding myself with those who support and believe in my visual viewpoint is crucial for me as an artist.”

I like how honest Michael is whenever he speaks about his own life challenges and creative work endeavours and personal growth: “It happens to all of us. My problem was I used to seek approval from people, that I finally realized they were not worthy of the approval I sought. I wanted this one job so bad once and I thought the prestige of it would be the ultimate, that I finally arrived. When I didn’t get it, I was really down and I saw who my real friends were. When I was in the running for the job, I had friends everywhere, and when I didn’t get it, they vanished and were laughing behind my back. That job I wanted had nothing to do with art or creative pursuits. When I started making head way in my creative endeavours, I realized I had been following the wrong dream. In the creative world we have an advantage we can create our own luck with our God given talents.”

His inner wisdom is fascinating. He is humble and yet very honest and determined. He also spoke about the injury he had encountered a few years back. It was also when Michael and I got to know each other…through a mere matter of chance. I needed an artist to illustrate my book “Words From Within” and he needed a challenge, he needed someone to inspire him to move, to stretch his imagination, to make efforts, to remember what he was before it all happened. “The day when my injury happened and the thought of not being able to create anymore sent me into a deep funk. I was in hospital. I was paralysed. I felt finished. I didn’t want to go out like that. I started opening and closing my hands as much as possible as well as my toes. Slowly after a few weeks I was able to bend my knees and sit up by myself and the therapists, doctors were amazed at my progress. I hated every minute of training rehab and the pain, but I kept saying to myself, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and get your life back.’  After some time I was finally able to work on my laptop and get on the internet. Then I just happened to make friends with this talented writer I met on Facebook – Jolita!!! You stood out to me. You were a writer trying to get a project completed. I gave a shot to help with the artwork, even though I could barely type on the keyboard or move the mouse around. With the help of my family, some nurses and my physical therapist they got me able to work on the artwork for the book “Words From Within”. The doctor said that activity was good for me. That was the toughest assignment that I have ever done. Now the challenge for me was whether I was able to accomplish anything in my current state. I wasn’t about to tell you what my situation was! I took it as a challenge to get back towards my old self. I started by doing what’s necessary, to see where my skills were at, then do what’s possible, doing the best I can with what was possible, and suddenly I was doing what I thought was impossible. This experience reminded me that the only thing that overcomes hard luck is hard work. My skill level and coordination was not up to par and your constant nick picking drove me crazy. But it was what I needed to get better. So as of this date I am back to being the way I was before. Jolita, you helped me get my mojo back with your support. Now I am being sought after for all kind of projects and new experiences because you helped me out of a rut I was in. By the way, those fake friends would try to come by and be friends again and I just smiled back, stayed pleasant and eased them on out the door. I learned a lot of lessons from that past experience,” Michael spoke candidly.

His words yield truth, and they come not from some book he read, but from a real life experiences that no matter how painful or unforgiving they were, yet they taught him things about life that not everyone would wish to experience. And yet, since when does life ask for one’s permission? If you need to get it in order to grow, you knowingly or unknowingly will call it forth, and the wind of the magic touch full of wonder and experience gloved in joys and pains will arrive at your door when you least expect it. Be sure, it will arrive. It will take the form that will serve you best, even if at first you won’t see it as a blessing but a curse and failure.

“Though we can’t always see it at the time, if we look upon events with some perspective, we see things always happen for our best interests,” Michael acknowledges. “We are always being guided in a way better than we know ourselves. I used to try to make others happy at the cost of my own happiness. With this mentality, I created a world in which I placed my well-being in the hands of others. The more I progressed, those that weren’t keeping step would say I was changing or I was acting like I was better than everyone else. Opportunities always came to me, because I was dependable and trustworthy – that was a code I lived by and still do. But still I kept people pleasing to my own detriment. As I did for them, they were not giving that same dependability back. When my injury happened and I appeared all but finished, that fake entourage disappeared. All, who were there for me, were immediate family. But I was not mad at them, I was mad at myself for I had attracted people in my life who were more than happy to take and take and keep on taking and see me fall. I now knew first and foremost, I had to meet my own needs. The injury taught me how to make myself a priority, I absolutely had to in order to recover.”

I asked Michael what and who inspired and set him on the path of creativity. According to the artist it was SciFi and SciFi art, comic book art, Heavy Metal magazine art, Omni magazine art that set him on the path he is on now since the high school. And artists like Wally Wood, Frank Frazetta, H. R. Giger, Boris Vallejo, Jack Kirby were his main sources of inspiration. “I like studding the history of art in general as a hobby because it helps me in the understanding of the thought process of other artists.” Michael says that inspiration not only gives possibilities for fun but also hugely produces struggle experienced through challenges that test every fibre of one’s imagination and willingness. “What inspires me most is fun of the work. I like the fact that there is a challenge when you are creating. It’s in the working being aware of the means which are available to you, these include materials, the selection of design or style you are forced to inherit, the conventions that must be obeyed, the prescribed or freely chosen subject matter, as constituting both an opportunity and a restraint. By working within restraint and using it as an opportunity you become conscious of limits. These limits challenge you at either an artisanal, a magical or an imaginative level. It pushes against one or several of them. I am often helplessly confronted by something I have created…filled with suspense. What I have created suddenly seems to have developed its own dynamics. Most of the time good things have happened and other times ones that are not always necessarily kind to me. It is a genuine struggle and challenge. I need challenges to stimulate me to that frenetic, slam-dunk workaholic frenzy that gets lots of stuff created efficiently and in quick time.”

I expressed my delight and appreciation for our long-standing and strong creative work relationship that no matter of distance and never meeting each other stood firmly through the time and has grown to become a friendship full of trust and further possible future creative endeavours together. Michael responded to my observations beautifully: “We are both creative souls. You are a talented writer. Writers like you, Jolita, are uniquely gifted to find meaning for themselves and to help others find meaning. Your job is to tell the universal stories, your insights, the stories that reveal the inside story of every person. Every day, when you put your fingers to the keyboard, you’re creating something. And then, with the click of button, you share it with the world. What we do, Jolita, is to address the idea of aesthetic experience. An aesthetic experience is one in which your senses are operating at their peak; when you’re present in the current moment; when you’re resonating with the excitement of this thing that you’re experiencing; when you are fully alive. We both create and discover meaning, purpose. (“If I showed you what lies inside my heart, would you believe it, would you take it as a real thing? Would you?” – from the poem If I showed you… by Jolita Kelias). You write amazing things like that. This is why this sort of friendship has lasted so long. I like knowing and being associated with talent like this.”

Just before we ended our conversation, Michael Brooks shared one more of his beautiful insights: “Do not let yourself be bothered by the inconsequential. One has only so much time in this world, so devote it to the work and the people most important to you, to those you love and things that matter. One can waste half a lifetime with people one doesn’t really like, or doing things when one would be better off somewhere else. Do not let yourself be bothered by the inconsequential.”

Copyright © Jolita Kelias 2018
All Rights Reserved

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